White House Drug Policy Director Speaks at DC Drug Court Intervention Program Graduation, Celebrates National Drug Court Month
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By Anita Jarman
In celebration of National Drug Court Month, President Obama’s top Drug Policy Advisor, Michael Botticelli, delivered the keynote address at the DC Superior Court’s Drug Intervention Program Graduation and Progression Ceremony. “Twenty-six years ago I sat in the same place, but I made that very wise decision to seek help and get treated,” stated Botticelli. For the past twenty years, the DC Superior Court Drug Intervention Program (SCDIP)1 run by the Pretrial Services Agency has provided an intensive sanctions and incentives based substance abuse treatment program for certain defendants charged with misdemeanors and non-violent felonies. Judge Gregory Jackson is the presiding judge of SCDIP.
This month’s ceremony celebrated all those progressing from Phase I to Phase II, from Phase II to Phase III, from Phase III to Phase IV...and most significantly, the five individuals who successfully completed the program and had their cases dismissed. Former Drug Court graduate Cathy Hurt encouraged those in the program to “be still, pray, and listen…ask for help and help will come” as she explained how SCDIP dramatically changed both her personal and professional life as a dance instructor. Hurt also challenged the graduates to “step up to the plate and show that we do recover.” As Judge Jackson announced the names of the graduates, each gave moving words of how the program had given them a new chance in life. Mr. Botticelli closed the program stating, “We all make mistakes…[but] we all should have an opportunity to recover to become a productive member of society.” He served as an incredible example of just how that can be done.
Among the attendees were: friends and families of the graduates and participants, Judge Robert Morin, Superior Court; Clifford Keenan, Director of Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia (PSA); Nancy Ware, Director of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA); staff from the Office of National Drug Control Policy; representatives from National Association of Drug Court Professionals, and staff from CSOSA and PSA.